Sunday, 31 January 2016

Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News ?

This week has been a mix of good and bad...

The good stuff: my brother-in-law's heart operation on Friday went well and he is now home and recovering; these beautiful tulips which we bought on Saturday; driving home in dusk now rather than total darkness - I love it when the trees are silhouetted black against an inky blue sky; getting a wonderful handwritten letter from my new friend in Canada enclosing some lovely handmade crafts; cracking on with another jigsaw - Lovely Hubby and I are working on another one my mum gave us which has a wartime picture of evacuee children on - really lovely; going to our friends' son and daughter-in-law's pub today for Sunday lunch near Malton - I can honestly say it was the best steak pie and mash I have EVER had.

The bad stuff: getting pulled over by the police for speeding on the outskirts of Northallerton where it changes from a 30 to a 60 zone - hopefully I'll be able to do the speed course rather than take the points on my licence; and worse than that - finding out today when we got home that our friend Scottish Charlie has died. He was supposed to spend Boxing Day with us but wasn't very well. We thought he was getting better but obviously not. We'll all miss you Charlie, especially Lucy and Whiskers who you always had treats for.

I can't believe January is over already... I wonder what February will bring for us all ?

Fiona x

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Great Vintage Buys

Today we got some great vintage buys - I got a big pack of vintage greeting cards for only £2.00. Those shown above are my favourites. They must have come from a house clearance because they are all addressed to the same lady - someone called Louise. I wonder who she was and what sort of a life she lived ... I'm sure she would be tickled pink to think I had bought her cards and would be putting them to good use as vintage decoration around Lucy's Cottage !

BUT the very best vintage buy from today was this antique bureau/writing desk which we picked up for only £15.00 ! It is made of oak or walnut and looks to be 1940s or 1950s although it could have been made later. We have been wanting something to sit underneath the bookshelves Lovely Hubby built to use as a vintage drinks cabinet - think 1920s champagne bowls, cocktail shakers, soda syphons etc ! Well this bureau fits like a glove and looks as if it was made for the space. We can leave it closed during the day and then open it up and display all our vintage drinks things when we want to have a bit of a cocktail party or at Christmas. Isn't it just the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas ?

Lovely Hubby has taken out the inside section so we have room for all our glasses and bits and bobs ...
Now I just need to find that perfect cocktail shaker and soda syphon ... Ebay !!


Too cute not to share :)

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Winter Days Are For Crafting ... & Muddy Dogs

Although the temperatures have risen considerably from the previous week, it's still pretty miserable outside - dark, grey and slightly damp feeling. I therefore decided that this morning I would have a couple of hours crafting, making some more Christmas and birthday cards with all the cuttings I have gathered over the last year.

I think my favourites are the Christmas card of the terrier looking up at the stocking, and the birthday card of the Boxer dog :)

After that I took Lucy and Whiskers for a walk further up the village. The beck is brown but it didn't put them off jumping in and having a good swim. On these days of wetness and mud I long for the summer when the dogs can come and go freely from the house to the garden and vice versa without needing hosing down and having their feet wiped repeatedly... Oh, the summer: warmth, sunshine, strawberries and Rose wine in the garden :)

Whiskers having a good bark !

The daffodils are blooming in the churchyard

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Who Could Resist More Chocolate Cake ?

Well certainly not me :) Last weekend's cake disappeared so quickly I had to make another one today. Unfortunately it's not photo-worthy yet. Half of the frosting is on but the frosting got a little stiff so I'm waiting for that to loosen up before I can finish it off. And now it's dark so I won't be taking any more photos until tomorrow.

Here is the recipe for Kay who requested it.

The chocolate sponge recipe is taken from one of Mary Berry's old cookbooks:-

4 tablespoons of cocoa
4 tablespoons of hot water
225g soft margarine (I always use Stork)
225g caster sugar
275 self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4)
Mix the cocoa and water together to make a paste
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and blend with an electric mixer or whisk until smooth
Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes

The chocolate fudge icing recipe is taken from the book "Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery" which is one of my very favourite baking books.

175g good quality dark chocolate (I use Dr Oethker)
225g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted

Basically, melt the chocolate and then whisk all the ingredients together using an electric whisk until smooth and stiff. I tend to pop it into the fridge for 15 minutes or so too just to make it stiffer. Unfortunately this time I left it in the fridge too long and it's as stiff as a board ! Hence why my cake is only half decorated this evening.

It's been a long day ... I've been shopping, made dinner for tonight (pasta with leeks and bacon in a homemade cheese sauce), baked the chocolate cake and walked the dogs. I'm now ready to sit down with a glass of Prosecco or two and do some more card-making !

Have a good evening all x

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Snowflakes & Chocolate Cake

Emma & Whiskers

This morning we awoke to snow at Lucy's Cottage - nothing big, just a small smattering as if the garden had been dusted in icing sugar.

We knew, however, that there would be "proper snow" up at Osmotherley, 5 miles north of us and on the edge of the North York Moors. So after having breakfast, washing up and preparing the fire for later, we made up a flask of tea, packed a tin full of home-made cake, bundled ourselves up as best we could and took ourselves, our girls and their mummy dog Emma up in search of the snowscape.

We weren't disappointed ...

Ice on the top of a gate

I found a mini icicle !!

The girls had a ball leaping over the snow and chasing pheasants and grouse and we enjoyed the blue skies, sunshine and crisp fresh air.

After a good walk we came back to the car for our cup of tea and home-made chocolate fudge traybake which I made yesterday afternoon. It was just what we needed after all that cold.

 The girls were weary on the way home !

When we got home we lit the fire, prepped the dinner and I got under my blanket with the girls. We might pop to the pub for an afternoon gin and tonic, or we might just stay at home, put a cowboy movie on and start our next jigsaw.

I hope the rest of you are having as good a day as we are :)

Fiona x